Human RightsRecent

Human Rights Violations in Somalia:

By Qasim Swati (United Kingdom)

Bordered by Kenya to the southwest, the Gulf of Aden to the north, the Indian Ocean to the east, Djibouti to the northwest and Ethiopia to the west, Somalia is a country in the Horn of Africa. Officially called the Federal Republic of Somalia, the country has the longest coastline on the mainland of Africa, with a total land area of 246,201 sq. mi. or 637,657 square kilometres and a population of 15,893,219, as estimated in 2020.

Agriculture is the most significant sector of Somali’s economy. However, the country has many untapped reserves of numerous natural resources, including uranium, tin, tantalum, silica sand, bauxite, salt, natural gas, kaolin, quartz, limestone, copper, iron ore, gypsum, gold, feldspar and gemstones, too. It is believed that there are 5.663 billion cubic metres of proven natural gas reserves in Somalia, as reported by the CIA.

Notwithstanding its hardworking workforce, having numerous natural resources and its agricultural position in the region, Somalia is faced with many problems, especially a long civil war, droughts, famine and economic stagnation, like most other former British colonies and protectorates. Its record of human rights is also under fire, due to various human rights abuses and violations in the country.

Many human rights violations have been committed on the Somali soil in different forms so far. One of the worst among such human rights violations is known as the Isaaq genocide, which was a state-sponsored, systematic massacre of the civilians of the Isaaq (a Somali clan) by the Somali Democratic Republic between 1987 and 1989, under the dictatorship of General Mohamed Siad Barre, during the Somaliland War of Independence. Various sources claim that some 50,000 to 100,000 civilians have been killed, as a result of this genocide. Nevertheless, the total civilians killed during this massacre are thought to be as many as around 200,000, as estimated by local reports. The genocide also forced up to 500,000 residents of the affected areas to flee the country and take shelter in Ethiopia as refugees.

A report by Amnesty International “Somalia 2020” has unveiled some of the many human rights violations that took place in Somalia, including such crimes, as attacking civilians indiscriminately; suppressing freedom of expression by harassing, threatening, intimidating, beating, arresting and killing journalists; subjecting girls and women to sexual violence; unlawful killings and internally displacing people disproportionately, who had already been adversely impacted by the COVID – 19 pandemic.

Likewise, the Human Rights Watch has referred to various human rights violations in its 2021 World Report, committed in Somalia, like sexual violence against women and girls, attacks against civilians, restricting freedom of expression and association in the country, abuses against children and the deteriorating situation of displacement and lack of access to humanitarian assistance.

Millions of people have been internally displaced, while many more forced to flee the country. Hundreds of thousands of Somalis have been killed and injured and infrastructure of the country destroyed, so far, due to civil war, mismanagement of the system and other elements.

Thus, this is the responsibility of the United Nations, the rich and well-to-do countries and the world community, as a whole, to help in bringing peace to the country and improve the living conditions of the Somali people by taking all necessary measures and steps.

Qasim Swati is a freelance journalist, writer and human rights activist, based in the UK, and can be reached at https://qasimswati.com or mailto:info@qasimswati.com.

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